Russian Line Infantry Colours

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Description

Every battalion carried a white colonel flag and another in the regimental colour. The flags measured 1,82 m. x 2,66 m., were fringed in gold and mounted on a 3,35 m. red wooden pole with a gilded finial. Two golden cords with knots were attached to the flagpole.

White colonel flag bore the imperial eagle which had on a breastplate the regimental arms encircled with St.George’s Order. Some regiment whose had no proper regimental arms, adopted Moscow city coat of arms with a golden scroll carrying the name of the regiment in cyrillic characters. In each corner of the white flag a flame pointing at the centre, in the regimental colour.

The regimental flag had similar flames, a crown (five pattern of crown have been depicted) and below a gold or silver shield with the regimental coat of arms or the cipher of Elizabeth Petrovna “EPI” for regiments without specific coat of arms. Behind the shield with coat of arms, 7 transversal bars (5 in case of shield with only EPI). The regiments without specific coat of arms were the regiments from the old Nizovoy Corps (near the Lower Caspian sea) : 12 regiments in 1741. Four of them were disbanded in 1742 (1) and 1743 (3) during the "War of the Hats" against the Swedes (Daghestanskiy, Bakinskiy, Derbentskiy, Salianskiy regiments) and so only 8 regiments were available at the beginning of the Seven Years War (the 8 last names of the list).

The regimental arms came directly from the Armorial of Minikh, created in 1729 and 1730. This Armorial showed the coat of arms of all Russian provinces or territories in a gold or silver shield (only the flags of Viatskiy, Iaroslavskiy and Archenguelogorodskiy regiments were with a silver shield) under a type of crown depending of the title of nobility (from no nobility to imperial) of the province or territory. Empress Anna Ivanovna decided to show these shields with coat of arms on the regimental flags and, on the colonel flags, the same coat of arms, without shield, in the doubleheaded eagle. In 1741 and until her death in 1762, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna decided to keep these flags.


Grenadiers Regiments carried 4 flags, a white colonel flag and 3 red. They measured 1,42 x 3,62 m. and were mounted on a white pole, with a golden spearhead. Either red and white flags bore in the centre a brown eagle with a gold crown, beak, claws, sceptre, globe and plume edges. Between the two eagle’s heads Moscow shield surrounded by a gold chain. Below a trophy of standards in the centre crossed ciphers PR (1rst Grenadier Regiment) or a number for the other regiments, together with grenades mitres weapons and cartridge-boxes. Eagle and trophies laid on two white clouds. Over the whole design, a third golden cloud with crown and the EPI cipher. In each corner of the four flags, flames pointing toward the centre, red for the white flag and white for the other with flaming grenades pointing outwards.


Each of the Observation Corps’s Regiments carried a white and 7 coloured flags, measuring 1,42 x 2,13 m. Their decoration represented a brown eagle, golden beak, claws, sceptre and globe; on a breastplate St.George killing the dragoon. Below golden trophy of weapons, drums and standards laying on a white cloud. Between the two heads a crown and the EPI cipher, surrounded by rays, all in gold. In correspondance of each corner, flames pointing toward the centre.


No precise assignation of colour patterns has been found yet for musketeers and grenadiers. Some combinations of colours are described below

  • white flag with golden flames
  • blue flag with lampoon flames
  • cherry red flag with white flames
  • green flag with lampoon flames
  • light blue flag with yellow flames
  • yellow flag with golden flames

References

Konstam, Angus, and Bill Younghusband, Russian Army of the Seven Years War, Vol. 1, Osprey Men at Arms Series, No. 297, 1996

Lubimow, A.J., Die Feldzeichen der russischen Armee 1741-1761, in Die Zinnfigur, Uniformheft 18, o.J

Pengel and Hurt, Russian Infantry Uniforms and Flags of the Seven Years War

Russische Fahnen, Die Zinnfigur, 1960

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, hrsg. von der KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, überarb. u. aktual. Neuauflage 1989

Viskovatov, A. V., Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army, vol. 3, Petersburg: 1900

Ziemer, E., Russische Fahnen und Standarten und Fahnenwappen 1741-1762, in. Artikel für KA7-Sammler aus alten Zinnfigur Heften

Acknowledgements

Carlo Bessolo for the initial version of this article